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HSR Citation Abstract

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The Differential Impact of Most Traumatic Life Event on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Women Veterans

McGee B, Mengeling M, Sadler AG, Booth B, Torner J. The Differential Impact of Most Traumatic Life Event on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Women Veterans. Paper presented at: International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Annual Symposium; 2015 Nov 6; New Orleans, LA.

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Objective: To examine trauma-specific predictors of posttraumatic outcomes in women veterans. In this retrospective cohort study, VA-enrolled US service women ( < 52 years of age) were asked to identify their most traumatic life event and to rate the presence and severity of PTSD symptoms. Among the participants (1004 women; mean = 38 years), 95% endorsed one of the queried traumas as their most traumatic event : 29% (n = 293) identified sexual assault (SA), 8% (n = 66) identified combat (COM), and 62% (n = 597) identified other trauma (OT). No differences in PTSD severity were found between COM and SA. However, when the type of trauma was further differentiated, those who identified their worst trauma as military SA (n = 171) had significantly higher PTSD severity scores (mean = 16.0) than those who identified non-military SA (n = 122, mean = 8.3), COM (mean = 13.6), or OT (mean = 9.5). Moreover, participants who endorsed a self-oriented trauma as the most distressing were more likely to have higher PTSD severity than those endorsing other-oriented trauma. These findings underscore the importance of recognizing the trauma-specific factors on posttraumatic outcomes. Specifically, the type of the traumatic event, as well as the subjective experience relative to the traumatic event, appear to be more strongly associated with PTSD severity than trauma exposure alone.

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